Deviled eggs are a crowd favorite at any Southern soiree. Learn how to make classic Southern deviled eggs recipe with relish for your next family picnic or church potluck.
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Here in the South, we love a good deviled egg. This classic appetizer is an invited guest at nearly every function, from a bridal tea, holiday meal, Easter dinner or family gatherings.
In a hurry to make the perfect hard-boiled eggs? Check out this post on how to boil eggs in the microwave.
The origin of deviled eggs
Though we Southerners like to claim deviled eggs as our own creation, we can’t take credit for inventing them. One variation or another have been around for centuries. Even the Ancient Romans liked to snack on seasoned stuffed eggs during a meal.
Here in the United States, deviled eggs gained popularity after WWII. It’s a tradition that’s still going strong here in the South. You would be hard-pressed to find a picnic or potluck dinner without them. Even among my family, someone is always assigned to bring deviled eggs to a family gathering.
How did deviled eggs get their name?
I never gave much thought to the origin of the name deviled eggs until my youngest overheard me discussing this recipe with The Husband.
“Devil eggs?” he asked in horror. “Will you get in trouble if you eat them?”
I assured my anxious child that the devil had nothing to do with the name, though I couldn’t tell him how they earned that particular moniker. In the 1800’s, the term deviled was used to describe particularly spicy food. Early egg recipes were seasoned with cayenne and spicy mustard, earning them the label deviled eggs.
Four ingredients every Southern deviled egg recipe should include
Deviled egg recipes are only as varied as your imagination. They can range from traditional to extraordinary with fillings ranging savory to sweet. But if you really want to learn the nitty gritty of what makes a classic recipe, you need these four simple ingredients:
- Six hard-boiled eggs. Check out my technique and tips for making easy peel hard boiled eggs.
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise. You can’t beat the taste of homemade mayonnaise and it’s easier to make than you think. However, Southerners are fiercely loyal to traditions. If you do choose to go with store-bought, Duke’s mayonnaise is the way to go.
- 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish. I couldn’t find any information on why we put pickle relish in our deviled eggs, but just about every recipe you come across has it.
- Paprika. Paprika adds a pretty pop of color. If you’re feeling spicy, try subbing the paprika with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper instead.
In addition, I also like to add:
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Dash of hot sauce, optional
How to make Southern deviled eggs with relish
Carefully slice eggs in half lengthwise. Using a small teaspoon, remove the egg yolks from the whites and place yolks in a medium mixing bowl. Place the egg whites to the side.
Mash yolks using a fork in a large bowl. Then add the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, garlic powder and sweet relish to the egg yolk mixture. Continue to whisk everything together until the mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you like your eggs a little spicy, add a bit of hot sauce.
Using a small spoon, fill equal amounts of the deviled egg mixture back into each of the hollow white halves. If you want to get fancy, you can even pipe the filling using a piping bag or a plastic bag with a tip snipped off. I just recently picked up this 5-Piece Wilton Cake Decorating Kit and I love it! It comes with five different tips and a big plastic syringe with a thumb trigger that makes it super easy to pipe icing, or in this case, deviled egg filling.
Garnish the filled egg halves with a sprinkle of paprika or cayenne pepper for extra heat. Traditional deviled eggs with relish can be eaten immediately, but for best results, I like to let them chill in the fridge for at least two hours to set up.
Make ahead and storage instructions
This Southern style deviled eggs recipe can be made up to two days in advance. Store the deviled eggs in an airtight container to prevent them from drying out or getting smushed. Deviled eggs should be eaten within two or three days. Do not freeze deviled eggs. Freezing and thawing will affect the texture and result in runny, rubbery eggs.
Frequently asked questions
Some recipes do include vinegar as an ingredient. It helps to cut the richness of the yolk and adds a tangy flavor. But, vinegar is not a requirement, especially since two of the ingredients I use — mayo and mustard — already include vinegar. The addition of the Dijon mustard adds enough tang for my preference.
The general rule of thumb is to expect to serve at least two eggs per person. However, if I’m making them for my family, I up that number to three.
Yes, for a slightly different flavor, you can use dill pickle relish instead of sweet relish.
More tasty appetizers
Southern Deviled Eggs with Relish
- 6 hardboiled eggs peeled and shells discarded
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 2 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Paprika or cayenne pepper optional
- Carefully slice the eggs in half lengthwise.
- Using a small teaspoon remove the yolks from the whites and place them in a medium mixing bowl. Set the hollowed-out egg whites aside.
- Use a fork to mash up the egg yolks.
- Add the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, garlic powder and sweet pickle relish. Continue to whisk everything together until the mixture is smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon equal amounts of the egg mixture back into each of the hollow egg whites. If you want to get fancy, you can even pipe the filling using a pastry bag or a plastic bag with a tip snipped off.
- Garnish the filled eggs with a little paprika or cayenne pepper for extra heat.